What Is the Purpose of a Sewing Machine?
While the first workable sewing machine was patented in 1790, it wasn't until Isaac Singer used Elias Howe's patent ideas that a workable sewing machine was popularized. Singer's design began what became the world's largest sewing machine factory by 1860. Earlier in the 1850s, Singer's machine was an object of desire in many households, but the $75 price tag was too steep. Singer introduced the installment plan to Americans, and the company flourished from there. Sewing machines changed the way we make clothing, as well as social and economical factors of American life.
Sewing machines are many times faster than even the most accomplished hand sewer. Modern sewing machines create seams that can be measured in feet per second, while the average hand stitcher sews at a much slower pace. Faster stitching translates to more items being produced or more free time available.
No matter how skilled, any hand sewer will have stitches that are marginally smaller or larger than other stitches. This is the nature of hand sewing, because it is all done without any specialized measuring devices; stitch length is determined by eye. Sewing machines always sew a seam with every stitch the exact same length. Regular stitches create a stronger seam, making clothing that will last longer.
Beginning with the zigzag stitch and moving on to today's computerized machines, sewing machines can make any number of decorative stitches on fabric. Rather than doing time-consuming embroidery stitches on clothing and home decor, sewing machine operators can add borders and designs to fabric items in a matter of minutes.
For many people, having a sewing machine means they will have extra money in their household. Even as far back as the mid-1800s, housewives would take in sewing to earn extra money. Today's home sewing machine operators can create custom clothing, quilts and crafts to sell in stores, craft fairs and online.